Still legal in 49 states

This is cross-posted from my personal blog and is a little more...oh, let's say, diplomatic and politically-minded than something I'd post here at the League. I was going to snark this up, but really, I think the awesomeness speaks for itself. You may insert your own snark.

My birthday's in less than a month, but today I got an early surprise. Guess what?

The Vampire Academy series has been banned! In Texas!

Okay, to be fair, the VA series has been banned by only one school district in Texas, but still. Wow. Who knew? The Texas ACLU just released their Free People Read Freely 2009 Report, which talks about all the banned book activity in Texas public schools over the last year. Artist friend John Picacio sent the link to me today, in which I learned that I was the second most challenged/banned author in Texas this year. I suspect this is probably only because JD Salinger doesn't have as many new books out right now. What's especially amazing is that this school district even made a pre-emptive strike and banned Spirit Bound along with the other VA books, even though it's not out yet.

What are my thoughts on this? Well, the short answer is that I think banning books violates the U.S.'s first amendment. I'm not always thrilled by my country's choices, but freedom of speech is one of our most precious and amazing features. Am I mad or upset about this school district's decision? No, not at all! If anything, I'm kind of humbled and amazed that I would actually join the banned ranks of greats like To Kill a Mockingbird and 1984. I keep trying to imagine a book banning committee saying something like, "Well, that concludes our discussion on the social messages in Lord of the Flies. Let's move on to...Vampire Academy." Really?

To give you a longer and more diplomatic answer about my thoughts, I'll simply repeat what I told John in the great article he and his pals did over at Missions Unknown. He had nice things to say about VA and the issue as a whole, so you should check the entire article out. I remarked:

As a former teacher, I absolutely respect and encourage parents to be a part of what their children are reading. However, banning books outright from schools and libraries takes this right away from families and denies them the chance to make their own decisions. It also flies in the face of the rights our country has always prided itself on, freedom of speech being the biggest. In my experience, many banned books are some of the greatest and most thought-provoking pieces of literature out there. Being in the company of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Robert Cormier is an honor.

I stand by all of that. I know districts like these have good intentions. I just don't think banning a book is the right solution. It's a gateway to other dangerous forms of discrimination in our world and limits our power to choose and think. Does that mean kids should be reading everything out there? No, but as I said, that's where parents or other guiding figures are hopefully stepping in to discuss the matters intelligently. I've always heard that the most powerful books are those that people either really love or really hate. I sincerely doubt this school district truly hates me or my books, but knowing I've created something that can trigger emotional reactions and make people pause to examine my messages is a pretty heady thing.

Many thanks to John for the info on this and to the readers who have supported me. I hope nobody will turn this into a Texas slam-fest because I actually love going to Texas and have met some of my most amazing readers there. And lastly, I want to offer kudos and applause to all those writers who have taken much, much bigger hits for their books over the years than this YA vampire author. You are truly great.


Daelith said…
Wow is right! I guess Jeremy doesn't stand alone as the only banished one here now.

I took a look at that list and there's one on there that really had me wondering...WTH?!!
My Pet Puppy by Honor Head

Looked it up on Amazon.

I mean...really?! What the heck in this book that teaches children about being a good pet owner is there to ban? Are there questionable pictures of dogs mating? Perhaps one of a dog rolled over on it's back exposing itself in a lewd manner? Give me a break.

It still boggles my mind that this day and age people still need to ban books. Like you, Richelle, I have no problem with parents being involved in what their kids read. I certainly wouldn't want some dictating to my child (if I had one other than the four-legged, furry variety) what they can and can not read. In fact, I would be tempted to acquire each on the list for them and tell them to have a blast.

Anyway, Richelle, I'm sorry, but at least you're in good company on that list.
Suzan Harden said…
Oh, for cryin' out loud! Now, I'm going to have to go buy a Vampire Academy book out of protest. Damn, we have enough stuff in Texas that makes us look like morons to the rest of the world.
Heather C said…
Wow!!! I agree with you: let people decide for themselves what they should and shouldn't read. Honestly, I bet your book sales go up in the will be like forbidden fruit. I know if someone told me this is just not appropriate for you to read, I would be all over it. Curiousity. :)
My parents made sure I only watched ok things on TV. I was not allowed to watch Dirty Dancing for the longest time.

You are in some great company. :)
unseelieme said…
There's worse company to be in Richelle --
Like the company of book banners!!
S B Frank said…
Speaking as a TX resident and an ed reformer, I am appalled but not too shocked that this happened. I'd love to know which district you're talking about so I can draw attention to the lunacy.
I live in that there Texas where reading is the devil's work!

They also banned Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which my son, who is in sixth grade, loves. He actually stopped melting his brain with Xbox 360 to read the series.

In any case ... free thinkers unite! Read banned books!
S B Frank said…
So, for those interested, I'm posting a response including a mock letter to the editor on behalf of Richelle on my blog The article will go up Monday AM and is entitled "Warning: This novel may cause teenagers to engage in sexual fantasies about vampires that may not be entirely realistic." Cheers,
Demon Hunter said…
Er, Richelle, I wasn't going to comment on the League since I already left a comment on your blog, but I just looked at the list.

Your book was banned, and then I scrolled down to the restricted books, which were not banned, but were acceptable based on parental consent and age. Don't get me wrong, I love the book I'm about to mention, but THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy was on the restricted list.

**Spoiler Alert**
It was suggested that a baby was eaten in that book!! And that was okay as long as it wasn't by vampires? WTF?? LOL.

I just don't think that any book should be censored. In any case, you rock! :-D

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